Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Buckeye Canal: A Weird Corner of History

While looking around for possible irrigation for my planned orchard of rare fruit-plants, I came across this odd little piece of history -- on the website of the Buckeye Water Conservation and Drainage Department, if you please!  It's a long tale, so I'll be copying it in sections, starting here:


            Although not widely known, the history of the Buckeye Canal reflects a dramatic story in the history and development of the arid regions of the American West.  Land and water form the sum and substance of the history and those who sought to acquire private land and put scarce and unpredictable amounts of water on it for beneficial use formed the essence of this history. 
It all started with a vision, shared by Malin M. Jackson, Joshua L. Spain, and Henry Mitchell, of a wonderful opportunity to utilize the abundance of water.  They discovered this water flowing 23 miles west of the junction of the Agua Fria River and the Salt River, situated in the central part of Maricopa County. 
In 1887 development work began on the irrigation system that was to supply the necessary water for what became known as the Buckeye Valley.  Despite economic and environmental challenges of enormous proportions, this enterprise, ultimately, turned once desolate acreage into highly productive agricultural land.
The system was first operated as a corporation serving as a common carrier from the date of construction until 1907 when negotiations were completed whereby the Valley land owners purchased the irrigation works outright.
            The Buckeye Irrigation Company, which, in 1907, after twenty years of fits and starts, emerged from the hopes and dreams of various irrigation speculators and would-be entrepreneurs, played the central role in this story of private capital harnessing the natural resources of the American West.  The struggles against alternative periods of flood and drought, economic downturns, and fiscal uncertainties, combined with shifting federal land and water policies, led Buckeye Valley settlers to seek their own solutions to securing, preserving, maintaining and delivering water to their agricultural lands. 
            For many years all of the water for irrigation of the approximately 20,000 acres of developed land was supplied from the regular flow of the Gila River, which drains more than half of the State, and is the largest stream in the State except for the Colorado River.  However, due to the many dams and up-stream users, irrigation wells had to be drilled to supply adequate water needed for all the land.  At the present, some of the water supply is being purchased as effluent from the City of Phoenix and others; thus, effluent, stream flow and pumps together provide the water to meet all the demand.
            We want to give homage to Malin M. Jackson, Joshua L. Spain, and Henry Mitchell for their foresight, determination and courage in developing the Valley irrigation system later known as “The Buckeye Irrigation Company.”  We also want to recognize our forefathers who pioneered in the development of the Valley and through their perseverance, founded the present Valley towns and communities that are good friendly places to enjoy life.

More to follow.

--Leslie <;)))><   )O(

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Crowd-Sourcing, Baby Steps

Following up on last week's post:

Thanks to several friends' advice, I signed up with -- a small but reliable and growing crowd-sourcing service.  Good thing I was already signed up with Facebook, because that and my own address book were the major audiences they sent out my message to.  I admit their system of setting up an appeal page was easy enough for even a toddler-on-the-information-highway (like me!) to understand and use.  Special thanks to Ori for guiding me, step by step, through the process. 

Oddly enough, it's hard to find my appeal-page by going directly to GoFundMe;  just looking up my name or the name of the campaign -- "Rare and Endangered Orchard" (which is odd enough to stand out) -- isn't enough.  However, it's easy to find it by going to my Facebook page.  Why?  I dunno. 

Anyway, the campaign has brought in a couple hundred dollars already, (for which I have to send off some autographed books and CDs tomorrow), so I'd say it's doing pretty well.  Cross fingers! 

Meanwhile, I've been doing what grounds work I can -- clearing out weeds with trunks as thick as saplings.  Whew!  Once we get this lot its going to take a lot(!) of work to clear, fence, soil-restore, dig and plant.  That's okay;  I'm looking forward to the first fruits already.  If we weren't pinching every penny to buy the land, we would have planted our first Bear Lime tree by now, and maybe a couple of desert-hardy grapevines.  I'm also looking into heat-tolerant raspberry plants, and daydreaming about raspberry jam.  I don't think anybody has made jam, or wine, out of Golden Pomegranates in the last few centuries, but it would be fun to try.

Wish me luck!

--Leslie <;)))><  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Quick, How Do I "Crowd-Source"?

Fans, can anybody out there tell me how I go about "crowd-sourcing"?  I need to raise $5000 fast.

It happened thuswise;  when Rasty and I bought our wee cottage here in Buckeye, we found that there was an empty lot next door that used to be part of ours.  It was totally "unimproved" --  no water, no sewage, no electricity, completely "unbuildable", and in fact full of trash -- but if we could get it and rejoin it to our lot, we could plant it to a whole mini-orchard of fruit trees.  A friend found and called up the owner, who said he'd sell the lot for $12,000, but hinted that he could be talked lower.  Since we'd spent all we had buying our house, we decided to let him wait a few months before asking how much lower he'd go.

Well, today we found out.  A couple of brokers knocked on our door an asked if we'd move our Ford Bronco off the lot, because some workmen were going to come and clean up the lot for sale.  A few more questions, and I found that the owner -- who's been in an accident, has a lot of medical bills and needs money fast -- was now willing to sell it for $9,000.  I promptly called the owner offered $4000 down (all we've got in the bank), "cash on the barrelhead, quick sale", and the rest as soon as we can get it.  He agreed not to list the property publicly until he hears back from me.

So, where do I raise $5000 fast?  We're absolutely NOT going to mortgage the cottage, or sell our one and only vehicle, or tie ourselves to a loan shark.  All I can think of is "crowd-sourcing" -- and I have no idea how to do it.  What are the crowd-sourcing websites, and how do they work?  And what could I offer the folk who are willing to put up money to the project?  I could promise autographed copies of my books and albums to anyone who'll send me $100 or better, but honestly, my fans could buy those from my publishers' websites -- or from Amazon -- a helluva lot cheaper.  I could promise to write a song, or poem, or story for any such pledger, but how many of you fans out there are willing to go for that?  I can promise free exotic fruit from the orchard (how would I ship it?) once it starts producing, but how long will that take?

Can anybody give me some ideas here?  ...And of course, if anybody wants to chip in, you could send to my PayPal account at  Please let me know, folks;  I really am a Toddler On The Information Highway here.

--Leslie <;)))><  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Watch the GOP Implode

All the news right now is about the federal shutdown, which was caused by a handful of Republican senators in a last-gasp attempt to keep the Obamacare bill from going into effect.  So far, the shutdown has done no worse than to send a lot of park rangers and CIA analysts off on unpaid vacations, but there are promises of worse to come.  I've heard dark mutterings, from various old and disabled folks, that if their Social Security checks don't arrive, they'll march on local Republican Party offices with torches and axes.  I don't think they're joking.

Of all the stupid moves the GOP has made over the last dozen years, this one has to take the cake.  I can't think of any single move the party could have made that's more guaranteed to cost it votes, and possibly send it spiraling down to permanent eclipse.  Already, here in Arizona at least, more voters have registered as independent or Libertarian than either Republican or Democrat -- and this is supposed to be a "red" state.

And the worst of it is the GOP's obvious and thundering stupidity!  Okay, so the Repubs don't like the Affordable Care Act;  well, a lot of citizens don't, including me, for good reason.  It's a huge (2900 pages!), sprawling, sloppy, bureaucratic mess, with all too many opportunities for corruption and pork -- and nobody who voted for it even read the damned thing first!  It's a classic example of a bad bill.

Even so, the Republicans have tried more than 40 times in the past four years to repeal it, have it declared unconstitutional, defund it -- and failed every time.  Instead of those 40 repetitions of failure, why didn't the Republican senators do the smart thing?  If they'd spent half as much time going over the bill -- page by page, paragraph by paragraph, line by line -- and thrown out all the redundancies, excessive bureaucracy, cute little bits of pork (like one paragraph that allocates $100 million to rebuild the infrastructure in Gaza), and just plain inefficiencies, they could have cut away more than half of it by now.  They might even have cut it down to less than 100 pages, and come up with something actually workable -- like simply expanding the coverage of Medicare, for example.  But no, they had to insist on throwing out the whole pie.  Stupid!

Of course, if Congress really was serious about cutting down the debt, and federal spending in general, it should have paid attention to the Government Accountancy Office -- which has spent the last three years looking over the federal bureaucracy, hunting for redundancy, inefficiency and waste, and has found no less than 1500 departments which should be abolished completely.  Simply voting to get rid of those useless departments would save trillions, right there.  But has anybody in Congress even brought this up?  Stupid!

The antics of the GOP are sending it down to destruction, but I suspect that the Democrat party is not far behind.  Indeed, if there was a third party that had any kind of decent advertising, they'd both be on the trash-heap of history already.

--Leslie <;)))><